More Ramblings from a Los Angeles Programmer

January 30, 2008

Amazing

Filed under: delirium, mathematics, technology, uk life — Tags: , , , , , — Josh DeWald @ 11:13 pm

Lately I have been more and more amazed by two things:

  1. Gravity
  2. Magnetism

Sure, we have a bunch of equations for their effects (i.e. the force they impart), but do we really truly understand how they could actually come about?

Think about it, our Earth is completely locked into orbit around an object 93 million miles away. 93 million. Heck, Pluto is 3.6 billion (3.6 thousand million for the Brits out there) miles away and it ain’t even going to break away. That is pretty damn amazing and we totally take it for granted.

One of the more entertaining things to do for us simple-minded folks is to take two magnets and try to push their like-poles together. Those puppies will really fight you! You can use the effect and move another magnet around a table. Japan uses this for friction-less high speed trains. Kids play with magnets from the youngest age, and it’s always fascinating, but it is completely taken in stride.

It is very interesting that another instance of moving things without touching them, telekinesis, is complete hogwash (presumably…) despite there being electric currents running all through us.

Maybe this is why every guy has, at some point in his life, been convinced the he could use the Force.

Don’t even get me started with quantum entanglement (aka “spooky action at a distance”). The world around us is truly stunning, even when we can “explain” it.

Update:Had 36 thousand million instead of 3.6

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1 Comment »

  1. I couldn’t agree more with you. It’s part of the every day magic that we accept to misunderstand. And we do accept that. Kids play with it and understand that it’s abnormal, but acceptable. What’s the name of that weird toy with the iron filings on a printed face, where you move the filings around to give him a mustache and a mohawk? Wooly or something like that.

    I’d like to add one more oddly accepted principle, gyroscopics. Haven’t we all had a simply gyroscope as a kid? And been like “damn that doesn’t make any freakin sense, but I like it, it defies my understanding and expectations of motion/matter/momentum.” I wouldn’t have used those words at 6, but this is retrospective inner dialog 🙂

    Comment by neil — February 26, 2008 @ 9:59 pm


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